By Samuel Oyadongha
YENAGOA- THE criminal but lucrative crude oil refinery business, which once dominated the mangrove swamp of the Niger Delta is gradually being decimated, following sustained raids on the camps tucked away in the creeks by operatives of the Joint Task Force, code-named Operation Delta Safe, OPDS, in the region.
Sources told NDV that the swamp area of Igbomotoru in Bayelsa Central, a hitherto hotbed of illegal refinery business could now be described as the ‘oasis of calm’ due to the operations of the OPDS, led by Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi and other stakeholders from the area.
No fewer than 1,819 illegal refinery camps have been destroyed in the region in the last two years. Interestingly, the task force has resorted to what it described as “metallic operation” in which swamp buggies are used to dismantle crude oil distilling sites.
New line of attack
The Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, JMCC, Operation Delta Safe, Major Ibrahim Abdullahi, told NDV that the special equipment deployed by the troops, crushed the items used at the camps and made them economically not feasible for the illegal operators to restart operation.
“The JTF has been carrying out massive metallic operations using swamp buggies against illegal refineries all over the joint operation area.
“This new strategy was recently deployed by Commander of Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, in our operations in April 2018 and it makes it difficult for them to reassemble and resume operation after raids,” Abdullahi said.
Known militant camps annihilated
He also boasted that the Joint Force had rid the region of identified militants’ camps, whose activities threatened national security.
Group lauds task force for improved security
Speaking on the effect of the repositioned military, a community-based group, Niger Delta Peace and Development, NDPD, applauded the JTF for stability and addressing restiveness in the area.
Chairman of the group, James Julius, said that the enhanced security in the region was responsible for a rebound in oil production.
The community leader noted that the effective operations of the JTF have checked renewed agitations that reduced oil output before 2016.
Apochi, round peg in around hole
“The present Commander of JTF, Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, has been achieving results and has proved to be a round peg in a round hole; his deployment at a time there was renewed restiveness was apt and strategic.
“For the past eight months for instance, there has been no reported incident in the region,” he said, noting that the Federal Government had shown commitment to repositioning the region as the oil and gas hub of the nation so as to attract investors.
Fleeing investorsshould return
Julius said there was urgent need to change the perception of international investors that fled the region as a result of militancy and sustain the interest of investors coming back in droves due to the prevailing peace and security.
We feel more protected – Ebiya
After two years of its activation, Operation Delta Safe, Mr David Ebiya, who resides in Southern Ijaw local government area in Bayelsa, said residents in the region feel safer and urged the military to sustain the existing peace.